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COYOTES DEFEAT BLACKHAWKS IN SHOOTOUT, 2-1

by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes
By: Chad Lynch

Photo Credit: Getty Images

STARTING GOALTENDERS
Phoenix - Mikael Tellqvist
Chicago - Nikolai Khabibulin

On Thursday night, the Phoenix Coyotes prevailed in a six-round shootout to captured a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Over the course of the first two minutes of play, the Chicago Blackhawks created a pair of offensive rushes that led to shots on goal, but Phoenix goaltender Mikael Tellqvist was sharp early to keep the game scoreless.

With just over three minutes gone in the first, Phoenix defenseman Zbynek Michalek made a great play to prevent a breakaway by Chicago's Karl Stewart. On the play, Michalek raced back into his own zone and carefully reached around Stewart to poke the puck away from his stick and into the corner, where Keith Ballard grabbed the puck and cleared the zone.

At 7:16 of the period, Coyotes forward Josh Gratton and Chicago's Jim Vandermeer hooked up for a tussle at center-ice. The two warriors put on an epic battle that saw both land a series of punches before being escorted to the penalty box for fighting.

Phoenix would obtain the first power play of the night at 8:34 of the period when the Blackhawks' Bryan Smolinski was called for hooking. With the extra attacker, the Coyotes were able to get sustained pressure on netminder Nikolai Khabibulin and the Chicago defense. However, they would be unable to convert their pressure into a goal as the Hawks returned to full strength.

The Coyotes would return to the power play at 11:47 of the opening frame when Jassen Cullimore was called for interference. While Phoenix would receive the extra attacker, it was the Blackhawks who would come away with the first goal of the game as Karl Stewart jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone and raced into the Coyotes zone where he fired a wrist shot over the shoulder of Tellqvist for a 1-0 Chicago lead.

With four minutes to play in the first, the Coyotes had their best scoring opportunity of the period as Yanic Perreault tried to stuff the puck in from the left goal post, but a sliding Khabibulin made a great save to keep the net clean.

Late in the first period, Phoenix defenseman Travis Roche took a hit by Chicago's Tuomo Ruutu, which would result in a mild concussion, causing Roche to miss the remainder of the contest.

The final minutes of the period saw both clubs generate offense with a series of end-to-end rushes, but neither goaltender was prepared to budge. As a result the first period of play would come to a close with Chicago holding a one-goal lead.

Early in the second period, the Coyotes offense began to dominate the tempo of play as they drove shot after shot at the Blackhawks net. But just as had been the case through the first period of play, Khabibulin was able to keep himself between the puck and the net, preserving Chicago's one-goal lead.

At 7:35 of the period, the Coyotes would find themselves shorthanded when a clearing attempt by Michalek sailed over the boards and into the crowd, resulting in a delay-of-game penalty.

Just 55-seconds later, the Blackhawks were given a five-on-three advantage when Phoenix forward Fredrik Sjostrom was sent to the box for cross-checking. Chicago would have just over a minute to work with the two-man advantage, but the closest they would get to adding to their lead was a shot that deflected off the outside of the right goal post as the Phoenix penalty killers kept the Hawks from finding open shooting lanes and capitalizing on the shorthanded Coyotes.

With just under eight minutes to play in the period, Shane Doan tried to even the score with a shot from the point, but while Doan's shot would beat Khabibulin on the glove side, the left goal post keep the puck from entering the net, sending the puck into the corner.

The Coyotes refused to let Khabibulin's shutout bid last through two periods of play as defenseman Ed Jovanovski evened the score at 1-1 at 13:54 of the second. On the play, Yanic Perreault would win a face-off in the Chicago zone, allowing Patrick Fischer to shuffle the puck over to Jovanovski at the top of the circle. From there, "Jovo" would let a wrist shot go that hit some traffic en-route to the net, before flying past Khabibulin to tie the contest at one.

Phoenix would have a chance to take the lead late in the stanza when Chicago's James Wisniewki was called for tripping at 17:32. The Coyotes would continue to get pressure on Khabibulin, but would be unable to take a second-period lead as the clock ran out, sending both clubs to the locker room after 40-minutes of play, tied at 1-1.

The Coyotes would get another power play early in the third period when Chicago defenseman Lasse Kukkonen was assessed a minor penalty for holding. Phoenix would use the opportunity to add four more shots to their game total. Unfortunately, none of the four shots would find their way past Khabibulin as the game remained tied.

Phoenix would trade places with the Hawks, taking their first penalty of the period at 4:10 of the third when forward Dave Scatchard was called for hooking. The Coyotes penalty-killing unit continued to hold the Chicago power play in check, limiting the number of shots on goal and eventually returning to full strength.

At 10:16 of the third, Coyotes forward Oleg Saprykin receive a dangerous hit from behind along the boards, which immediately resulted in a boarding call to the Blackhawks' Karl Stewart. However, the Hawks penalty killing unit turned in their best performance of the night as the majority of the two-minute penalty saw the puck outside of the Chicago zone, allowing the Stewart to return to the ice with the contest still tied at 1-1.

The Coyotes would call upon their penalty-killing unit late in the period as Georges Laraque (charging) and Dennis Seidenberg (slashing) took penalties just over a minute apart, giving Chicago 52-seconds of five-on-three hockey. Phoenix, led by the rotation of Keith Ballard, Zbynek Michalek, Dave Scatchard and Mike Zigomanis, would offer support to Tellqvist would stood on his head, as he kept the puck out of the net, allowing Phoenix t return to full strength.

Neither club would be able to find the go-ahead goal they were searching for in regulation, sending the game into overtime.

OVERTIME
In the extra session, both clubs practiced cautious offensive pressure as they tried to find the game-winning goal without leaving themselves vulnerable on the defensive end.

At 3:03 of the extra session, Coyotes forward Yanic Perreault was sent to the box for high-sticking. Fortunately, the Blackhawks power play would last just under a minute as Chicago's Tuomo Ruutu was called for ripping at 4:01 of the extra frame.

The two clubs would spend the final 59 seconds of overtime skating three skater aside before the extra period came to a close and sent the two clubs into a shootout.

SHOOTOUT
It would take six rounds to complete, but in the end, Coyotes captain Shane Doan secured victory for Phoenix when he slid the puck around the leg of Khabibulin. Doan's tally gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead in the shootout and a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks. For a complete list of shooters, see list below.

Round 1
Jeff Hamilton - No goal
Patrick Fischer - No goal

Round 2
Bryan Smolinski- No goal
Ladislav Nagy - No goal

Round 3
Mikael Holmqvist - No goal
Yanic Perreault - No goal

Round 4
Tony Salmelainen - No goal
Owen Nolan - No goal

Round 5
Tuomo Ruutu- Goal
Mike Zigomanis - Goal

Round 6
Radim Vrbata - No goal
Shane Doan - Goal

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